Louisiana lawmakers advance bill restricting gender-affirming treatment for minors

Published: May. 2, 2023 at 11:18 PM CDT
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BATON ROUGE, La. (WVUE) - A Louisiana House bill intended to restrict healthcare options for transgender minors moved one step closer to becoming law on Tuesday (May 2).

The testimonies of doctors and transgender people were not enough to convince lawmakers to stall the bill. After nearly five hours of heated testimony, HB 643 passed in the Health and Welfare committee on a 14-3 vote.

The bill, introduced by Rep. Gabe Firment (R-Pollock), intends to make it illegal for healthcare providers to prescribe or administer drugs or perform surgeries on children experiencing gender dysphoria.

Trans-identifying people, advocates and doctors told the committee they opposed the measure.

“I urge you to vote no. I think there may be different ways to improve the care and improve safety for these kids, and this is not it,” said Dr. Robin Ivester, an internal medicine physician from New Orleans. “This bill is inappropriate government overreach and, if passed, would prohibit trained, experienced providers from following the well-established standards for safe, effective and medically necessary care to their patients.”

Nationally recognized activist Chloe Cole testified in support of the bill, saying she started transitioning at 13. Three years later, she began de-transitioning and says she regrets the medical intervention.

“I am just the tip of the iceberg. You are so incredibly fortunate that there aren’t dozens of us testifying before you today,” Cole said. “But that will come soon, if you keep ignoring this problem. You have a chance to act now.”

Dillard University political analyst Dr. Robert Collins says this spring’s session isn’t intended for these types of bills.

“We are seeing a flurry of ‘culture war’ bills in a session that is really primarily supposed to be about budgets and taxation,” Collins said. “Bills that deal with trans issues, with abortion issues, with religious issues, with LGBT restrictions, and things of that nature. (Lawmakers) are doing it because they want to be seen as good culture warriors for conservative causes.”

The bill is expected to make it to the governor’s desk. With a Republican supermajority in both houses, a veto likely won’t hold this session.

Still, transgender rights activists and allies said they will stay dedicated to their cause.

“We’re not going to let that stop us from uplifting those doctors, those parents and those experts to raise their concern and their voice,” said Helen Frink of Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast. “This is part of a dangerous and ugly legislative trend from across the country. We’re seeing similar bills in Texas and other conservative states and it is very concerning.”

Rep. Jason Hughes (D-New Orleans) proposed an amendment to the bill that would allow gender-affirming treatment for minors only with parental consent. But that proposed change failed on an 11-6 vote.

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